Roy Vaughn, left, stands with Ray Alger at the site of a one-acre field that will be devoted to a bee-friendly legume called sanfoin. [Photo by Rudy Herndon / Moab Sun News]

Ray Alger is taking Moab’s Bee Inspired Gardens Initiative to the next level.

With the help of local beekeepers Roy Vaughn and Tim Walsh, the longtime Moab resident recently planted a full acre of a bee-friendly legume on his property off 500 West.

Vaughn expects that the project will benefit hives and honey-loving beekeepers far beyond the neighborhood.

“This will help their production, and it will help anyone who has bees for two to three miles around,” he said. “They’ll forage on that.”

Vaughn and Walsh have tended to hives on Alger’s land for several years now, and in that time, Vaughn said that Alger has noticed some positive changes on the property.

“He said his orchard is performing better,” Vaughn said.

Not too long ago, Vaughn struck up a conversation with Alger about his plans for one large plot on the property.

According to Vaughn, Alger said he didn’t know what he wanted to do with the land, so Vaughn made a suggestion: What would he think about devoting the land to bee forage like clover?

Alger was sold on the idea, and he agreed to lease the full acre to the two beekeepers for a three-year period. The rent is very reasonable, according to Vaughn.

“We pay for it with honey,” he said.

After they explored their options, Vaughn and Walsh settled on the idea of planting sanfoin, a member of the legume family that has a longer blooming period than clover.

“It’s really good forage for honey bees … and it makes excellent organic hay for horses,” Walsh said.

Sanfoin is also a nitrogen fixer that helps build fertile soils, so Walsh and Vaughn expect that the crop will do wonders for the land.

They spent about $210 on 40 pounds of seeds from Lehi-based Granite Seed Co., and now that those seeds are sprouting, Grand County Honey Bee Inspector Jerry Shue is hoping that it will become a model project.

“We’re going to find out what Grand County can do with an irrigated acre that’s devoted to pollinators,” Shue said.

Alger, who moved to Moab in 1953 to become its first licensed electrician, is about to celebrate his 91st birthday next month, and Vaughn said he doesn’t fit the typical stereotype that people might expect.

“You wouldn’t think of him as an environmentalist or a tree hugger or something, but he’s really interested in this,” he said.

Others have contributed to the project, but Alger deserves most of the credit for it, according to Vaughn.

“He didn’t have to do this, but it’s going to benefit everybody,” he said.

There are other pieces of ground in Moab that are similar, and some are even bigger, Vaughn said, suggesting that Alger’s project could set a trend.

“I was hoping that people would see this and that others would follow suit,” he said.

Longtime resident plants acre of pollinator-friendly forage

You wouldn’t think of him as an environmentalist or a tree hugger or something, but he’s really interested in this.